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"THE AGE OF ADALINE"
(2015) (Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Romantic Drama: A 107-year-old woman, who hasn't aged in appearance since she was 29, once again must contend with falling for a man she knows with whom she won't be able to grow old.
PLOT:
Adaline Bowman (BLAKE LIVELY) was born in 1908, but due to a single car accident at the age of 29 in which she plunged into frigid water, clinically died, and was then revived via a lightning bolt, she hasn't aged a day in appearance since. Now 107-years-old, she looks like the granddaughter to her own daughter, Flemming (ELLEN BURSTYN), who appears old enough to be the grandmother in their relationship. Due to her unusual circumstance, Adaline has never let any romantic relationship proceed too far, what with knowing that she'll never be able to grow old with the man. And since she realizes her condition could be of interest to parties without her best interest in mind, she changes her name, physical appearance and address every decade in order not to draw undue attention to herself.

Despite that, and now living once again in San Francisco this time under the alias Jennifer Larson, and with plans to move soon, she has now drawn the eye of Ellis Jones (MICHIEL HUISMAN), a young and handsome philanthropist who doesn't pay heed to any of her signals indicating she's not interested in him. He eventually wears down her defenses and the two become romantically involved.

But when he takes her home for the fortieth wedding anniversary celebration for his parents -- William (HARRISON FORD) and Connie (KATHY BAKER) -- also attended by his young adult sister, Kiki (AMANDA CREW), things head in an unexpected direction when William recognizes Adaline from his past.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
For the most part, Hollywood is a young person's game. Sure, plenty of people behind the scenes are middle-aged or older, and some performers do manage to continue finding working well into their seventies and sometimes eighties.

Yet, despite plenty of baby boomers available as audience members, most Hollywood films feature young and attractive leads, especially when it comes to the ladies. While you can probably name quite a few leading men in their forties, fifties and beyond, it becomes a bit more difficult when naming female leads of that age.

The latest film to showcase that problem is "The Age of Adaline." In it, the lead character is 107-years-old, but did the casting agent find a woman near or at that age to play the part? No, they instead cast 27-year-old Blake Lively as the lead. Talk about age discrimination!

Granted, and to be fair, her character doesn't look a day over twenty-nine, and yes, that's actually a significant part of the plot. Written by J. Mills Goodloe and Salvador Paskowitz, the story revolves around our titular protagonist who was born in 1908, ended up clinically dead for a few moments after a car accident, and was then revived by a lightning bolt, all of which resulted in her never having to age again.

For the past nearly eighty years, she hasn't developed any wrinkles, grey hairs, age spots or traditional physical ailments that come with repeated annual trips around the sun. That's unlike her daughter (Ellen Burstyn) who now has the look of being Adaline's grandmother, and had to go long stretches of not seeing her mom. That was due to the latter changing her alias and home address every decade or so to avoid the powers that be from dissecting her to see what makes her tick and gives her that Ponce de Leon sheen.

Her latest stop has been a return to her native San Francisco where she's caught the eye of a young and handsome philanthropist (Michiel Huisman) who simply won't accept her repeated attempts to blow him off. You see, since she knows she can't ultimately grow old with anyone, she's never fully committed to a romantic relationship following the death of her husband all those years ago.

The pic -- helmed by Lee Toland Krieger -- has all of the trappings of a Nicholas Sparks flick. There's the reserved protagonist with a hidden secret, the young and strapping fella who might just allow her to be herself, and a surprise revelation that might just upset that apple cart, so to speak.

The latter comes in the form of Harrison Ford who plays the young man's father who sees something -- okay, quite a lot he recognizes -- in the protagonist. The veteran actor brings believability to the part of a man who always has wondered what happened to that one "who got away" so long ago, and despite some possibly icky father-son-girlfriend potential, that development gives the flick some added gravitas (as do the brief moments between Lively and Burstyn's age-reversed characters).

Yes, the overall offering is a bit goofy (especially due to the premise and the occasional work of the voice-over narrator who nearly verges on the edge of camp in describing related and other matters). And I never fully bought into the 27-year-old actress having a century-plus old soul within her. But the pic thankfully never goes over the side into full-out hokeyness or, worse yet, maudlin melodrama as some might fear and/or expect.

While the title character shares one attribute with vampires -- never aging -- she, unlike those who can forge permanent temporal companions via a quick nibble at one's neck, must travel alone through time. Lively manages to impart such loneliness into her character, but I would have liked a more poignant and in-depth examination of said thematic material than occurs here. It's hard to predict how "The Age of Adaline" will age with viewers over time, but based on my recent, lone exposure to it, I rate the film a 5.5 out of 10.




Reviewed April 21, 2015 / Posted April 24, 2015


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